Skip to main content

Chemical stabilization of Cd-contaminated soil using fresh and aged wheat straw biochar


Metal mining and smelting activities can introduce a substantial amount of potentially toxic elements (PTE) into the environment that can persist for an extended period. That can limit the productivity of the land and creates dangerous effects on ecosystem services. The effectiveness of wheat straw biochar to immobilize Cd in contaminated soil due to metal smelting activities was investigated in this study. The biochar carbon stability and long-term provisioning of services depend on the biochar production conditions, nature of the feedstock, and the biotic and abiotic environmental conditions in which the biochar is being used. Within this context, three types of wheat straw biochar were produced using a screw reactor at 400 °C, 500 °C, and 600 °C and tested in a laboratory incubation study. Soil was amended with 2 wt% of biochar. Both fresh and aged forms of biochar were used. Biochars produced at lower temperatures were characterized by lower pH, a lower amount of stable C, and higher amounts of acidic surface functional groups than the freshly produced biochars at higher production temperatures. At the end of the 6 months of incubation time, compared to the soil only treatment, fresh and aged forms of wheat straw biochar produced at 600 °C reduced the Cd concentration in soil pore water by 22% and 15%, respectively. Our results showed that the aged forms of biochar produced at higher production temperatures (500 °C and 600 °C) immobilized Cd more efficiently than the aged forms of lower temperature biochar (400 °C). The findings of this study provide insights to choose the production parameters in wheat straw biochar production while considering their aging effect to achieve successful stabilization of Cd in contaminated soils.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Data availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this article.


Download references


Results incorporated in this paper received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 721991.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



DR: Conceptualization, investigation, formal analysis, visualization, and writing original draft. FR: Investigation and writing (review and editing). RVP: Investigation and writing (review and editing). AVB, OM, EM, JW, and YY: Supervision, resources, and writing (review and editing). FR: Supervision, resources, writing (review and editing), and funding acquisition. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dilani Rathnayake.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Additional information

Responsible Editor: Zhihong Xu

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


•Severity of surface transformation after aging was high in low-temperature wheat straw biochar compared to biochar produced at higher temperatures.

•Aged wheat straw biochars performed better than the fresh biochars at 500 °C and 600 °C production temperatures, while fresh wheat straw biochar performed better than the aged form only at 400 °C.

•Alkalinity and surface functionality in wheat straw biochar played an important role in immobilization of Cd in pore water.

Supplementary Information


(DOCX 15 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Rathnayake, D., Rego, F., Van Poucke, R. et al. Chemical stabilization of Cd-contaminated soil using fresh and aged wheat straw biochar. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 10155–10166 (2021).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Wheat straw biochar
  • Accelerated aging
  • Soil remediation
  • Biochar stability
  • Cd contaminated soil